10 churches in the middle of lakes

From Greece to France, these 10 lake sites set in stunning mountainous regions of Europe will make you combine the discovery of beautiful architecture with outdoor activities!

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Golem Grad island churches, North-Macedonia

On this relatively small island of Lake Megali Prespa stretching into northern Macedonia, Albania and Greece, many historical and cultural monuments are concentrated. The Golem Grad island has been inhabited continuously for 2000 years, with a thriving monastic life from the 10th century until the 14th century. There are currently remains of churches, including the Church of St Peter of Golem Grad, which is the only one that is fully preserved. Built around 1360, it was last restored in 1934. The church has many frescoes to admire inside.

Golem grad island churches
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Agios Achillios island churches, Greece

South of Lake Megali Prespa, in Greece, is Lake Mikri Prespa, which also hosts several ancient religious buildings. In its waters, the connected island of Agios Ahillios is a site steeped in history. In the 10th century, this island was one of the centres of Bulgarian imperial power, from when the massive ruins of the Basilica of St. Achilles still remain. South of the site there are still several other churches and monasteries.

Agios Ahillios Island churches

Ioannina island monasteries, Greece

On the shore of Lake Pamvotis, the prosperity of the city of Ioannina grew as Constantinople started to decline in the 13th century. From this period, the nearby Ioannina island became an important monastic site, which was respected by the Ottomans that invaded the territory in the 15th century as a sacred site. However, in 1822, the Ottoman army invaded the island and destroyed its building in their search for the renegade governor Ali Pasha. Afterwards, several of them were restored, and nowadays there are seven monasteries on the island.

Ioannina island monasteries

Church of Our Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro

The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks is not located on a lake island but in a bay connected to the Adriatic Sea. It was first built in the 15th century by Orthodox monks, along with the artificial island it stands on. A new church was built by the Venetians in 1630, who converted the church from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism.

Church of Our Lady of the Rocks

Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Slovakia

The former Roman-Catholic Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, built in the 18th and 19th century, is the only building preserved after the construction of the Orava dam in 1953 and the flooding of the Orava valley. At present, this Classicist church houses a permanent exhibition of Orava folk art, sculptures, paintings and occasional concerts.

Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Visovac Monastery, Croatia

The Visovac Monastery was founded in the 14th century by Dominican monks. Taken over by the Franciscan a century later, the monastery was enlarged. Destructed and abandoned in the 17th century, the monastery was repaired in the 18th and 20th century. Located on the beautiful island of Visovac in the Krka National Park, the monastery has a collection of books, works of art and other important documents.

Visovac Monastery

Church of the Assumption of Mary, Slovenia

The Church of the Assumption of Mary or "Mary on the Lake" dates from the 12th century. Located on Bled Island, it is a renowned pilgrimage centre and popular tourist attraction. On an old wooden building (probably religious), a stone construction was erected and reamined unscathed until an earthquake in 1511. The church was heavily restored in the 17th century, conferring its baroque style.

Church of the Assumption of Mary

Basilica di San Giulio, Italy

Little is known about the origins of the Basilica of St. Giulio. Recent excavations, however, have shown that a building was already there in the 4th and 5th centuries. The site is supposedly the place of death of Julius of Novara (Gulio di Orta), a missionary priest who converted northern Italy to Christianity. The church presents an interesting mix of styles ranging from Romanesque to Baroque.

Basilica di San Giulio
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Saint Théodule chapel, Switzerland

The Sainte-Théodule chapel is located on the site of the ancient medieval town of Pont-en-Ogoz. The chapel, like the castle towers, was built in medieval times around the 13th century and was abandoned at the start of the 15th century. In 1948, with the construction of the Rossens dam, the site was flooded and became an island in the Gruyère Lake.

Saint Théodule chapel

Saint Michel chapel, France

The Saint-Michel chapel, associated with the abbey Saint-Michel (Sacra di San Michele in Italy), was built in the 12th century on a small hill, in the hamlet of Couches. Destroyed in 1692 by the troops of the Duke of Savoy, it was rebuilt in the 17th century. The Serre-Ponçon dam was built in 1961, but the chapel was saved as it was located on a hill, now an island in the reservoir.

Saint Michel chapel